LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and a bipartisan coalition of 33 attorneys general called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its Center for Tobacco Products to do more to protect kids from e-cigarettes. Nessel’s suggestions include limiting the flavors that draw kids in, reducing nicotine levels to prevent addiction and protecting young people from marketing.
“Nicotine use by our young people has reached epidemic levels,” Nessel said in a press release. “We need impactful tobacco regulations that protect our youth from the dangers of e-cigarettes and marketing tactics that target them with products flavored to taste like fruit and candy. We must act to regulate young people’s exposure to these products and take robust enforcement actions against manufacturers, distributors and retailers who ignore the law.”
More than 9,000 types of e-cigarette devices are sold in the United States, and nearly 6,000 of those are disposable devices. Last year, 14 percent of high school students reported that they were currently using e-cigarettes. Teen nicotine consumption is linked to nicotine poisoning, mental health and behavioral problems, academic issues and future addiction to other substances.
In a letter submitted to the FDA responding to a request for comment on the Center’s proposed five-year strategic plan, the coalition of attorneys general urge the FDA to set up guardrails to prevent young people from becoming addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes.
The attorneys general recommend that the FDA:
- Prohibit all non-tobacco flavors in e-cigarettes. These flavors – mimicking fruits, candies and desserts – are a major reason young people try e-cigarettes in the first place.
- Enact evidence-based limits on nicotine in e-cigarettes. More than 80 percent of e-cigarettes sold have more than 5 percent of nicotine concentration. And because some devices last for hundreds or thousands of puffs, young people end up consuming much more nicotine.
- Restrict marketing that attracts youth by making sure marketing materials don’t target them and by preventing young people from being bombarded with ads about e-cigarettes. E-cigarette manufacturers have used social media and influencer marketing to entice teenagers.
- Close the “disposable loophole.” Disposable e-cigarettes have not been subject to the same existing FDA enforcement guidance as cartridge e-cigarettes, and they’ve surged in popularity. More than half of youth e-cigarette users last year reported that they use disposable e-cigarettes instead of cartridge-based e-cigarettes.
The attorneys general are also asking the FDA to promptly enforce the law against companies and sellers across the e-cigarette supply chain who are flouting federal regulations.
Attorney General Nessel is joined in sending this letter by the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.